Love In The Time Of Loneliness
‘Yours Truly’ by director Sanjoy Nag, is a Hindi film streaming on Zee5 starring Soni Razdan in the lead, Aahana Kumra, and Pankaj Tripathi. Nag’s film is an attempt at evoking aesthetically the longings and desires of the middle age amidst the enduring loneliness. The film’s opening is as alluring as its theme. We see the film’s lead, Mithi (Soni Razdan), through the mosquito net that is a part of her monotonous life, where she lies and wonders if her day would be any different from what it always had been.
Nag’s ‘Yours Truly’ had seen the first light of its day at the Kolkata International Film Festival, 2018. Throughout the length of the film, Nag tugs and pulls at the routine and the fantasy that keeps Mithi going. Shot in Kolkata and Sheorphuli in West Bengal, Mithi’s life is overwhelmed by the sound ambience of chattering children, complaining neighbours, trains running on the tracks by the side of her ancestral house. Although Mithi might seem detached, she embodies the city’s wholeness in her urban loneliness. She is lonely in a city full of people, but isn’t everybody so?
The Premise: The Postmodern Romance
Mithi Kumar’s days, though are often spent in loneliness, does not stop her from searching for love. She takes her loneliness with her and embarks on a journey to find her love –her love for a voice. Had she been younger, a voice could have had various impressions on her –the humor of a friend, the idealism of a lover, the promises of a politician, the desperation of an artist, the prose of an author. However, standing at 57 years, a voice for Mithi is literally, just a voice. The voice is her companion every day during her way to her work, for a short while amidst the entire hustle bustle at the Howrah station. The voice is, however, not just hers alone. Everyone hears it though anyone hardly cares for it.
Hence, Mithi writes (almost with a familiar hope), letters addressed very simply to “Announcer”. While his words are public to be heard by everyone whoever wishes to, hers are meant only for him –private, personal. In Mithi’s head, the announcer is a compassionate man. In her fantasy, his voice guides her –“wear that cardigan”, “you’ll be late”, “avoid the ticket checker” –almost similar to the manner in which he guides the passengers into the right journey every day.
However, Mithi does not receive replies to her letters (not that she tries to seek the man behind the voice out either). Perhaps that is how she wants it to go on, by keeping the obscurity alive. After all, that is the only thing that makes her look forward to her otherwise mundane days spent amongst lazy men. Perhaps, loving is easier when it is for a stranger, especially for a lonely woman in her late fifties.
On Isolation And Non-Delusional Companionship
Most of Sanjoy Nag’s ‘Yours Truly’ is based on a short story written by Annie Zaidi, ‘The One That Was Announced’. The Film unfolds at a pace that enables the audience to mull over the psychology that plays behind isolation. Nag creates an awareness that loneliness is in fact, not a choice but rather a condition (at least in advanced acute scenarios). We start living inside the mind of Mithi and gradually recognize that the companionship that Mithi seeks for is anything but delusional. Her fantasies of companionship are not based on the unrealistic romantic goals that are preset by the literature and films that we take to be benchmarks in our daily lives.
On asking Soni Razdan about the centrality of Mithi as a character in the context of the present day films and audience, she had remarked, “It is a sensitive film about loneliness and finding love and companionship. This woman questions that since everyone has a soulmate, where is the one for her? We haven’t really made it about sexuality or desires. Not just women, but men too will be able to relate to the story due to its universal appeal. While the middle-aged would relate to it, the younger audience will definitely enjoy it for its uniqueness.”
A Tall Tale Of Love, Desire And Isolation
Mithi’s love for her “Announcer” bears a feeling of belongingness that is in stark contrast to her otherwise lonely life. For a long eight years, Mithi has been writing to a voice opening herself with no amount of hesitation or regret. Her letters are filled with thoughts that are sometimes so hackneyed that they would perish out of existence if not shared with someone. It is as if, in her loneliness, the announcer is the witness to her existence. Nag’s film is ambitious in that it tries to widen its scope by simultaneously trying to fit in the guarded desires of a woman in her fifties, the urban loneliness, and the fantasies that people survive on to get past the unreciprocated pain of longing.
Nag plays out his film in the manner that is somewhat poetic, generously endowing it with the silence and the pauses that often synchronize with the theme of loneliness and isolation. Far more remarkable is the manner in which Nag documents, with much tenderness, the attempts of Mithi at seeking attention. She single-mindedly starts up a conversation with a bus passenger who is disinterested. On another instance, she impetuously gifts her new quilt in the train to a deceased man as if he was her friend.
Nag’s direction is at its highest strength when it unfurls with vividness the abundance with which the lonely bestow their love on everyone. Mithi is so loving and motherly that it can almost be called a fault in her owing to her naïve and selfless love be it for her sister, her colleague, her dog or the “Announcer”. Nag’s film is simple, honest and transparent both physically as well as in its spirits. ‘Yours Truly’ is poetry on the screen meant for people like Mithi who have had but one truth to live for their whole lives –loneliness, among all the noise of existence, is the only companion that stays. Loneliness is our most sincere truth.